Writers: David Koepp, Christopher McQuarrie, Dylan Kussman
Cast: Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella, Russell Crowe, Annabelle Wallis, Jake Johnson (XVI), Courtney B. Vance
Genre: Action & Adventure, Drama, Horror
Despite Universal’s first attempt to begin a new cinematic universe of its classic films, the foundation was weak to begin with as The Mummy fails to provide authentic storytelling through stylized action and weak character development.
Violence/Scary Images: Various moments may come off as scary for young viewers, despite the movie rating. Mummy’s rising from the dead, the call out for the god of death, and spiritual possession over certain characters.
Language/Crude Humor: The foundation of the relationship between Nick and Jenny is a one night stand where Nick double crosses her by stealing confidential information. Because of that, there are references and crude remarks regarding their “good time” the night before. A couple of profane words appear here and there during action sequences as well.
Spiritual Content: There is a significant amount of dark spirituality, though not as much as the former Mummy films. That being said, it is greatly noticeable as the Egyptian Princess Ahmanet calls on the god of death and is also possessed with godlike abilities.
Sexual Content: Along with the crude remarks between Nick and Jenny, there are illusions of Ahnmanet and Nick together with Nick being shirtless and Ahmanet being on top of him as she prepares to sacrifice him to the god of death.
Drug/Alcohol References: The group is at the bar having a couple of drinks but nothing else.
Other Negative Content: Aside from what has already been mentioned, nothing that I can really think of stands out.
Positive Content: Overcoming death, and the price of sacrifice one’s life for friends.
Growing up in the late 90’s/early 2000’s, The Mummy (1999) and the The Mummy Returns (2001) were greatly enjoyable and fun to watch as a kid. While certain moments are cringing when watching the films as an adult (don’t get me started on Dwayne Johnson’s PS2 looking effects), the films are still overall enjoyable as a whole with good comic relief, action that isn’t overdone, and a heavy reliance on the spiritual realm of the Egyptians to the point that they even bring back the Ten Plagues from the Book of Exodus. In the 2017 spinoff (no, it is not a remake), The Mummy takes place in modern day with a completely new cast, a new ancient curse, and a new introduction to Universal’s Dark Universe. While the idea of a Dark Universe came off as somewhat interesting, the foundation of it has already struggled to prove itself worthy.
Within the first half hour of the film, the story already begins with characters that are anything but interesting. From the release of the trailers months prior, Tom Cruise already came off as the type of character he has been widely known for in past films such as the Mission Impossible series and Edge of Tomorrow (2014). It is not just the fact that it is nothing new, but it is also not worth investing the time in. His relationship with Chris is hardly expanded on while his romantic involvement with Jenny is one-dimensional and typical.
Jenny is no different from Nick as she too is not given a back story or depth as the only female character. Chris did come off as interesting and funny since he was the comedic relief of the group, however, his character quickly becomes disregarded after the plane crash as seen in the trailer. To get audiences involved, the characters have to be relatable and also impactful as seen in the previous Mummy films. In this spin-off, all of that is quickly disregarded for action and adventure and unnecessary predictable jump scares. Sure, the story matters just as much if not more than the characters in some cases. However, the characters give the story the drive and are the reason that the story should be interesting to begin with.
The Dark Universe had a weak start. It came off as very interesting, all thanks to Russell Crowe’s portrayal of Dr. Henry Jekyll. Through comments and certain shots, there is a clear understanding that more is at large than the awakening of Princess Ahmanet as Dr. Jekyll reveals that this is a new world of gods and monsters. Though the scenes were short, his portrayal of both Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was the significant high point of the film that was overall entertaining and engaging to watch. For those that are very familiar and fond of the classic monster films, there are a number of references that hint to new and upcoming sequels in this new cinematic universe.
Along with Dr. Jekyll, Sofia Boutella’s Princess Ahmanet comes off in a similar fashion the previous Mummy characters have–a short yet interesting backstory that could have been greatly expanded on. It has been a struggle to see villains in film given very little depth as to what or who makes them who they are. Much of the revealed backstory was in need of more rather than just scary imagery and fight sequences. Because of this, the rest of the film suffers as it focused on over-stylized action with Tom Cruise and a unfulfilling, anticlimactic ending that leaves audiences uneasy about the future of this new Cinematic Universe. It is understandable that the Mummy in past films could raise the spirits of the dead that were the guards of the tomb. It doesn’t make sense in this film for Princess Ahmanet to raise anyone from the dead, which overall defeats the purpose of the character and mythology.
Considering how countless classic and timeless films are getting remakes for the sake of cinematic universes and profits, this spin-off does not come off as a major surprise. What does come off as a surprise is how low the bar has now been set for the Dark Universe. Even Warner Brother’s DC Extended Universe foundation Man of Steel (2013) had a decent start to begin with. There is not much to expect in this film walking into it and not much to think of when walking out, aside from Russell Crowe’s shining moment as a modern day Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde. With the exception of Warner Brothers’ Wonder Woman, the summer of blockbusters has a very slow and unsatisfying start with major box office bombs. Hopefully the tide will turn in July with films such as Sony’s Spider-Man: Homecoming and Warner Brothers’ War of the Planet of the Apes and Dunkirk, but all that remains to be seen.
Trey Soto holds a B.A. in Communication Studies from Biola University, emphasis in Interpersonal/Rhetorical Theory. He has been a Film Critic/Analysis for over a year at Geeks Under Grace and other websites such as Temple of Geek. In his spare time, he enjoys comic book literature, screenwriting, production assistant freelancing, photography, cosplay, and hosting his own film podcast T.V. Trey on Podbean and iTunes.
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